Outdoors

Public hearing on speckled trout set for Thursday

Mississippi's commercial speckled trout season closes Friday because fishermen have met the quota of 25,000 pounds. The next season opens on June 1.
Mississippi's commercial speckled trout season closes Friday because fishermen have met the quota of 25,000 pounds. The next season opens on June 1.

The Mississippi Department of Marine Resources will hold a public hearing on proposed speckled trout regulations on Thursday.

The hearing begins at 6 p.m. in the auditorium on the first floor of the Bolton Building in Biloxi.

Last month, the state Commission on Marine Resources passed a notice of intent for a change in the recreational size limit for speckled trout from 13 inches to 15 inches.

The 15-inch minimum was recommended by DMR biologists after a stock assessment of speckled trout in Mississippi waters indicated the spawning potential ratio (SPR), or percentage of fish that are of reproductive age, was at 10 percent. That number is considered too low for a sustainable fishery, so the commission set a target SPR of 20 within the next three to five years. According to models run by MDMR biologists, the new minimum will achieve that goal.

The proposed regulation will be up for final adoption at the Dec. 20 meeting of the CMR.

Also at the October meeting, commissioners passed a 2017 recreational season closure for speckled trout in January, February and March.

“Our staff reviewed the stock assessment for speckled trout and made recommendations that we think will improve this fishery in the next three to five years,” said Matt Hill, director of the DMR Finfish Bureau. “Speckled trout is a very popular fish on the Coast, and we have more residents and tourists than ever taking fishing trips. We want to replenish the stock so fishermen can enjoy speckled trout for years to come.”

James Jones: 228-896-2320, @_jkjones

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